Original Research

The relationship between emotional intelligence and leadership styles in the South African petrochemical industry

Maggie Pillay, Rian Viviers, Claude-Helene Mayer
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 39, No 1 | a1109 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v39i1.1109 | © 2013 Maggie Pillay, Rian Viviers, Claude-Helene Mayer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 March 2013 | Published: 08 November 2013

About the author(s)

Maggie Pillay, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, South Africa
Rian Viviers, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, South Africa
Claude-Helene Mayer, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, South Africa

Abstract

Orientation: Although research on emotional intelligence in the context of leadership has remained a recurrent area of interest in theory and practice during the past decade, ongoing debate continues regarding the contribution of emotional intelligence to the understanding of leadership.

Research purpose: The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between self-reported emotional intelligence and leadership styles in a South African context and to determine whether emotional intelligence can predict an effective leadership style.

Motivation for the study: Research is needed in order to determine a more detailed relationship between emotional intelligence and leadership in the dynamic and globalising South African petrochemical context.

Research design, approach and method: The study was conducted in terms of a positivist paradigm, using quantitative research instruments. Leaders (N = 161) were selected from a business unit in a South African petrochemical organisation. Self-reports from the emotional quotient inventory and the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ Form 5X, Version 2009) were analysed. Correlation analyses indicated statistically-significant relationships between emotional intelligence and transformational and laissez-faire leadership.

Main findings: Findings indicated positive correlations between self-reported emotional intelligence (specifically adaptability) and transformational leadership. Negative correlations were obtained between emotional intelligence (specifically intrapersonal skills) and laissez-faire leadership. The research also showed differences between specific demographic variables.

Practical/managerial implications: This study provides valuable significance for organisations’ endeavours in improving, training and identifying alternative selection and assessment procedures for evaluating leaders’ strengths.

Contribution/value-add: This research contributes to the South African research on emotional intelligence and leadership styles and thereby adds context-specific value to the topic within a specific cultural and organisational context.


Keywords

Emotional intelligence; Transformational leadership; Transactional leadership; Laissez-faire, Effective leadership

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